Mania Grade: B
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- Art Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: B
- Text/Translatin Rating: B+
- Age Rating: 16 & Up
- Released By: TOKYOPOP
- MSRP: 9.99
- Pages: 211
- ISBN: 1-59182790-6
- Size: B6
- Orientation: Right to Left
Abenobashi: Magical Shopping Arcade Vol. #01
By Eduardo M. Chavez
February 15, 2005
Release Date: August 01, 2004
Abenobashi: Magical Shopping Arcade Vol.#01
Writer/Artist:Akahori Satoru/Deguchi Ryusei (Created by: Gainax)
Translated by:Beni Axia Hirayama
Adapted by:What They SayINSPIRED BY THE HIT ANIME SERIES
Sasshi's world is crumbling away. His best gal pal, Arumi, is about to move away, and adding insult to injury, his neighborhood is being demolished in the name of urban renewal. However, when his section of the city is leveled, a portal to paralleled universes is cracked wide open, hurling Sasshi and Arumi into strange worlds reminiscent of your favorite manga and anime!
TOKYOPOP does a good job with Abenobashi. They use some of the original cover art here, focusing on the character piece featuring the main characters, Arumi and Sasshi. TP placed this image over blue-toned panel art. Above the image is the logo, which is set up like ADV anime logo, including five-point star in the "O" (nice). The opposite cover has images from two chapter headers beneath the volume description.
Inside, the printing is pretty good. As this GN is smaller than the original there are some alignment issues, but nothing serious. TOKYOPOP decided not to use color pages here, and those pages look very nice. At the end of the GN there is a short ato-gaki, a preview description for volume two, followed by Mahoromatic, Fruits Basket, and Gundam SEED Astray.
Deguchi’s art is misleading. As the writing parodies anime and otaku culture, the art does the same. When Deguchi needs the art to be detailed and intricate, he does it. He can clean up his line work and tighten up his sense of form, making his characters look more realistic. If he needs additional comical effect, he goes into SD. If he needs mechanical art, he does that and continues to maintain the comical theme of the series.
Backgrounds are consistently good. They have a good amount of detail and are present when needed. The layout is not great. At times I found myself lost due to poor panel placement and strange perspective.
The translation is not very bad. Not only are personalities well established but the humor comes out well, also. TOKYOPOP has a tough situation with the puns involved, and their versions tend to work smoothly. TP also uses honorifics with good effect, as it confirms the relationships within the cast.
Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Poor Sasshi, his small piece of the universe is falling apart around him. Growing up in the city of Osaka in the late 90s and the early 21st century has meant having to deal with a lot of redevelopment. Transportation is being improved through the expanding subway system. The new part of town is seeing more construction as Osaka city proper is expanding towards the suburbs. Districts on the outskirts of town, Abenobashi must rethink ideas of urban planning that have been around since post WWII reconstruction. Abenobashi an old residential district known for its shopping and history appears to be changing right before Sasshi's eyes and there is nothing the young man can do about it. What Sasshi does not understand is that this has been in the stars since the previous millennium, and will continue to happen for millennia to come. All of this was prophesized by the person this area was named after - Abe no Seimei.
It is known that Kyoto was created with Abe no Seimei’s idea of balance. As an onmyouji (ying-yang master) his job was maintaining a balance of energy flow. Good and bad, living and dead but no what holds the astral plane in balance with the plane of the living is being destroyed in Abenobashi. Based on the same principal as Kyoto, Abenobashi has four guardians protecting the district, each in a power struggle with each other. The four celestial beings that were once the guardians of Abenobashi have fallen and the future of the area has become uncertain. Sasshi's family was the keepers of one of these beings - Genbu the tortoise (guardian of the north and Kame no Yuu/Turtle Bath house). His best friend's family is holding onto the last guardian beast standing - Suzaku the phoenix (guardian of the south and of Grill Pelican). So when he comes back from summer vacation to find out his family has moved and his friends are leaving town, his world and the astral plane start to fall apart. Actually, it is more like they start to mesh into some otaku's dream... Arumi, Sasshi best friend would like to consider it an otaku nightmare! How does one fix this and do either Sasshi or Arumi want it fixed?
I am pretty sure most people have had moments where they felt their world was following apart. There will always be differences in magnitude, but such changes in people's lives are often profound and painful. Sasshi's world is not going to be the same and there is very little he thought he could do about it. He had no part in any of the changes, but it his life is completely changed from this point on. He would likely have to deal with an issue like this at some point in his life, but no one is ever really prepared, and neither was Sasshi. The kid is lucky, though. He has been given multiple chances to make it better. Sooner or later though, he like everyone else in his neighborhood, is going to have to give in to reality… But why would he want it fixed? Think about it. Given the choice, why choose reality when it can only be painful? If the opportunity is available why choose the hard way? Sometimes, the easy way is selfish, sometimes it is wrong, and making the choice is what is really telling.
Abenobashi is really deceiving. On the surface it is a parody title, making fun of genres and cultures. Akahori-sensei does a decent job with that, but I was not really impressed by the lack of detail. However, there is a plot developing around the coming of age of the main characters. Their travels through time and space are slowly helping them grow, as they must take responsibility for their actions (ridiculous as those actions might be). The execution is not very consistent, though. It comes from the how inconsistent the comedy is. Sometimes its crude, its often etchi, puns are tossed in, and the repeated jokes fall flat in English. This is not TOKYOPOP’s fault but jokes are usually tricky, and this title uses them a bit. In the end, fans of the anime will end up finding new, more etchi, scenes and a new character amusing. New fans, on the other hand, would be better off picking up a title like Maniac Road for their otaku history lessons.
Fun but nothing special.